Learn more about NVA
Dig AfognakNative Village of Afognak petroglyph
home  :  education
Red Cedar of Afognak Driftwood Unit Summary

Authors: Originated by Judy Olsen; further developed by Vera Benedek.
With funding from the Administration for Native Americans.
(See list of Websites and resources at the end of the unit.)

Grade Level: 3 - 6

Context: 3 - 4 weeks (may be abridged for one-week camp program)

Science Standards:

  • A15 – Use science to understand and describe the local environment (Local Knowledge).
  • B1 – Use the process of science; these processes include observing, classifying, measuring, interpreting data, inferring, communicating, controlling variables, developing models and theories, hypothesizing, predicting, and experimenting.

Skills and Knowledge:

  • Understand that scientific investigations may take many different forms, including observing what things are like, collecting specimens for analysis and doing experiments. Investigations can focus on physical, biological, and social questions.
  • Ability to identify various types of driftwood and how it can be used (because of strength or in ease of starting fires, or smoke produced)
  • Understand that winds, currents, tides, tsunamis all play a part in how oceans affect our lives.
  • Keep records of their investigations and observations and not change the records later.

Cultural Standards:

  • D-3 – Interact with Elders in a loving and respectful way that demonstrates an appreciation of their role as culture-bearers and educators in the community.
  • A-3 – Incorporates contemporary adaptations along with the historical and traditional aspects of the local culture.

Skills and Knowledge:

  • What wood would be best for a specific task?
  • Understand Natives’ dependency on driftwood as substance for survival, shelter and safety.
  • Predict the possible origin of different driftwoods based on the type of wood and the ocean current patterns.
  • Learn about specific resources available from the beach.
  • Appreciate the ingenuity and adaptability of the Native people through their use of driftwood in their lives.

History Standards:

  • 3-II Understand the cultural aspects of local community
  • 3-III Understand history of local community
  • 6-III Understand the natural forces that shape the earth’s environment
  • 6-V Understand and evaluate how humans and physical environments interact

Skills and Knowledge:

  • Learn some of the practices of the Alutiiq community
  • Learn and understand the history of the people of Afognak Island and how natural forces forced them to leave their home to relocate elsewhere
  • Learn that history is determined by many forces

Lesson Outline:
    1. A Driftwood Story
    2. Properties of Wood
    3. Cultural Uses of Wood – Past and Present
    4. Tides – Gravitational Pull of the Moon
    5. Wind, Tides and Currents
    6. Earthquakes and Tsunamis
    7. Afognak and the 1964 Tsunami
        Camp version, classroom version
    8. Celebration of Trees
        •  Driftwood Art
        •  Driftwood Stories and Poems
    9. Celebrating Alutiiq Customs and Traditions


Driftwood Lessons